Published: April 5th 2010April 5th 2010
We were driving along the streets of Manhattan the afternoon we arrived at La Guardia and the whole time I was awing at the vast landscape of skyscrapers and the apparently never ending quality of being in the downtown area of any big city. I guess I never realized that Manhattan itself is covered from corner to corner with skyscrapers. It’s wild.
As we drove, I stared down each street, all of them seeming to have a quality all its own.
And then we drove one block further, and there we were, right smack in the middle of Times Square. Then the car stopped, and I realized that my week in NYC would be spent staying at the Marriott Marquis New York, where everyday I would be able to walk out the door and right into the excitement of thousands of people and lights that make the night seem like day.
That night, we went out to eat in Little Italy at this magical place in which the promise of “Sangrias on the house” lured us inside.
By the time I made it down to the lobby at 6 am the next morning, I was already in love with the city.
Four of us girls used our subway passes (we bought an unlimited week-long subway pass which turned out to be the best investment of my week by far) and took the train to the end of Manhattan. We got on the free Staten Island ferry at 6:50 am and met Lady Liberty and saw Ellis Island on the way across the bay.
When we got to Staten Island, we grabbed coffee and breakfast sandwiches and ran back through the terminal to catch the 7:20 ferry back across the bay. Running to catch the ferry with coffee in one hand and our umbrellas in the other, I think we all felt like we would be prefect New Yorkers in no time.
After returning to Manhattan, we continued our rainy day, reaching every corner of the island we could in the 10 hours we had until our scheduled dinner.
First we stopped off in the financial district where we visited Ground Zero, saw the progress on the new World Trade Center and saw the firehouse at ground zero where the burn marks from the fires during 9/11 still stain the brick walls.
Next we shot up to Canal Street and China Town
and then up to Soho and Greenwich Village. We stopped in Greenwich Village to escape the rain and have some coffee, and we of course spent a couple hours shopping around Soho. I have never been more grateful to own an umbrella in my life.
After leaving Soho, we took the subway up to Bryant Park and looked around inside the New York Public Library.
From there, we, once again, took the subway up to Rockefeller Center and saw the famous ice rink and 5th Avenue. We walked across the street to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was amazing. It made me think I was in old world Europe, yet I had to dodge a never-ending stream of yellow taxis to get across the bustling street to go inside.
From there, we traveled to Grand Central Station and had lunch among thousands of people.
Then we made our way to Central Park, where we managed to score half-priced carriage rides through the entire park. Only downside? We got soaked with rain. Worth it? Yes.
Inside Central Park we saw the fountain where the credits for FRIENDS was filmed and we walked around the Strawberry Fields that are dedicated to John Lennon.
From the park we got to see the street corner where John Lennon was assassinated.
Despite being pretty haggard by the end, we decided to go have a look around the Time Warner Shopping Center and ended up taking a picture with a gigantic naked statue.
After returning to Times Square and our hotel, we changed into our formal dresses and went to dinner at Tony’s Di Napoli just off of Broadway St. for dinner with the University of Idaho Alumni Association. The chicken parmesan was delicious.
After dinner I had the chance to meet up with Romina and Nicole, whom I lived with in Ghana, and we went out for more food - this time to a fantastic little Ethiopian restaurant in Soho. Well, since I had been on my feet for 13 hours by that time, three of them with heels on, I decided to take off my heels and let my feet rest while at the Ethiopian restaurant. BAD IDEA. My feet, for the LIFE of me, would not fit back into my shoes after dinner and I had no other option but to walk 4 blocks through the middle of Soho, in the rain, with bare
feet. We found a drug store that sold cheap slippers and I had no choice but to buy some.
So, needless to say, I spent the evening in one of the “coolest” parts of Manhattan drinking mojitos with slippers on. Classsssy.
The next day our group from UI met for lunch at this amazing little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant located inside an apartment building on Lexington Avenue. It was heavenly.
After lunch, while still smelling a bit like curry, we visited the Malian Mission to the United Nations.
The reason I got the privilege to spend the week in NYC is because I attended to National Model United Nations conference. I acted as a delegate representing the Republic of Mali as a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The committee meetings I attended each day simulated the way actual meetings take place at the UN. The meetings were conducted in formal fashion, with formal and informal sessions, as well as agenda setting. We formed blocs with the representative from other countries and worked with them to find solutions to issues presented to us that affect all members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We created working groups that
drafted working paper segments. At the end of our 3 day session, we voted on working papers and compiled all of them that were passed into one report that was presented to the UN General Assembly. There were tons of different committees that had sessions at the conference, and as Mali, UI had representatives at all relevant committees. It was quite the learning experience.
Anyway, we had a couple of hours to formally visit with the consular from Mali and ask him and his assistant any questions we might have about Mali and the committees they represent as part of the UN. It was a really great opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of being a diplomat.
The opening ceremony for the Model UN conference was later that night and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that at least half of the delegations at the conference were from places other than the US. It was very international, and right up my alley.
After committee meetings that night, we went out and finally had some of New York’s famous pizza at Ray’s. We also went to M&M World (three stories of M&M’s!!) and the Hershey’s Factory and spent
some time catching the excitement on Times Square.
The next day we got to visit the UN Foundation and we listened to the former Assistant UN Secretary General speak. Her life, as well as her ideas about life, were quite inspiring.
During the Model UN conference I got to choose an extra lecture (aside from my numerous committee meetings each day) to attend. I chose to listen to one titled something to the effect of “Media and the UN”, and I had no idea that by choosing this session I would have the opportunity to listen to Richard Engel, Pamela Falk, Robert Windrem and Michelle Miller speak. It blew me away. Richard Engel who is the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, Pamela Falk who works for the UN News Service as well as CBS, Robert Windrem who covers terrorism for NBC and Michelle Miller who is a correspondent for CBS News all talked about how they got where they are at in the media world. It was very encouraging.
On Wednesday night we took the subway to Brooklyn and walked back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was incredible. The city lights are so mesmerizing. We took bountiful
number of photos, and now I can say I did a cartwheel on the Brooklyn Bridge. Haha.
On Thursday the rain finally left the city and the sun took it’s place. It was beautiful during my lunch break on Thursday, so I found a little street-side deli and took my lunch outside. I ate, soaked up some sun and people-watched at a little table in the middle of the crowds on Times Square. I loved it.
Every morning I would bypass the lines of people waiting to get coffee at the Starbucks in my hotel and go across the street to get drip coffee and the same muffins sold at Starbucks for half the price. Great way to start the day!
On Friday after our committee sessions ended and our report from the Organization of the Islamic Conference was voted on and passed, the four of us girls and one of our advisors, Kelli, got all dressed up and went out to dinner at this charming little pub before we went to the Broadway show, Mamma Mia!
The show was unbelievable! By the end, we were all up dancing and having a great time. When we were streaming out of
the theater along with hundreds of others, I happened to run into the Close-Up group from Delta. What are the chances!?! Once again I was reminded of how small our world really is.
That night, the group of us spent time with our new friends from around the world (mainly from Montreal) and after spending time in the ballroom of the Marriott, we went out to a pub on a side street in Times Square. It was a great, great night.
The next morning we met for our last breakfast in NY and headed to the airport just after 11 am.
I was sad to tear myself away from the glamorous lights and exhilarating life of the city. I’m now hoping that maybe I’ll have the chance to spend more time in NYC someday .
So to sum it all up, I’ll use the wise words of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys when they say, “New York!!!!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
there's nothing you can’t do,
now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
big lights will inspire you,
let's hear it for New York, New York, New York!!!”
There are more photos below